Laryngopharyngeal reflux, or “LPR,” is one of the most missed medical conditions, yet it can cause so many symptoms – including nasal congestion or sinusitis.
First off, just because acid from the stomach can reflux high enough to contact the throat and even affect the nasal passages, doesn’t mean that the patient will necessarily feel heartburn or chest pain.
When the acid shoots up the esophagus to throat or nasal level, it may not remain long enough in the esophagus to cause the classic burning sensation in the chest.
Thus, you should never assume that you can’t possibly have LPR just because you never have heartburn or stomach discomfort.
Laryngopharyngeal Reflux and Nasal Congestion
“If the acid or bile from the stomach does reach the larynx, it can cause damage to the vocal cords leading to hoarseness and chronic inflammation that can be labeled as laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR),” says Hugh Mai, MD, Director of Endoscopic Ultrasonography and Bariatric Endoscopy, Gastroenterology Division, Sinai Hospital of Baltimore and LifeBridge Health.
Dr. Mai continues, “Refluxed acid can also cause chronic sinusitis, ear infections in children, dental erosion and damage to the taste buds…changing the way food tastes to individuals.”
Many other conditions can also cause one, some or all of these symptoms, which is why sometimes, laryngopharyngeal reflux is not at the top of the list for possible causes.
If you’ve been suffering from chronic sinusitis or nasal congestion that does not respond to standard treatments, you just very well might have LPR and will need to get to the root of the problem: your gut.
Dr. Mai is well-versed in the endoscopic treatment of GERD. LifeBridge Health provides the Baltimore community and beyond with a wide array of choices in health care services.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.